CHEER asked voters in the Takoma Park City elections in November, “What do you think is the most important change needed in your community?” This open-ended question drew responses from 136 voters.
About half of the respondents were from Wards 2 and 3, which had contested council seat races. The most common themes mentioned were : Community engagement (21 comments), local business concerns (20 comments), crime (17 comments), and traffic/pedestrian safety (17 comments).
Also mentioned were: environment (9 comments), affordable Housing (8 comments), property maintenance and neighborhood cleanliness (8 comments), and youth programs (6 comments).
Tree related issues got 5 comments (two wanted more tree canopy, and three suggested modification of the City tree ordinance). Lower taxes got 4 comments. Below is a list of selected comments from the four major themes.
The topic gathering the most comments was related to community engagement and civic participation. Some of the comments focused on having a civil discourse, but others emphasized the need for more involvement and interactions across cultural and socio-economic barriers.
- “Inclusive neighborhood dialogue and community building” Ward 2
- “We need people to remember we are all neighbors and work to resolve problems together” Ward 2
- “Tolerance, empathy; I think we should be more unified.” Ward 3
- “Community forum for everyone even those who are not self-identified activists.” Ward 3
- “Bridging the rent/owner divide; keeping affordable housing” Ward 3
- “Enhance, encourage participation at all levels in building a diverse community.” Ward 4
- “Absolutely to get more participation by residents in community organizations. And to get people to spend more time and effort getting to know their neighbors, which breeds safety and comfort.” Ward 6
- “Grass roots up rather than top-down decision-making on long-term projects, especially. More interaction between commercial & residential stakeholders.” Ward 6
- “Someone or Something to bring about more involvement of newcomers to the community as well as those of us who have been living in Takoma Park for more than 5 years.” Ward 5
Local Business comments were either related to the general health of local businesses or for specific types of economic development.
- “More restaurants & bars – which provide community” Ward 2
- “Add Grocery Store” Ward 3
- “More viable business’ in Takoma Junction” Ward 3
- “Government provided or facilitated programs to help move residents to a higher level of self-sufficiency.” Ward 4
The most common comment expressed was a desire to feel safer or to reduce specific crimes, such as burglary and home invasion. Some combined it with social interaction concerns.
- “More proactive police patrols and crime prevention.” Ward 3
- “Less crime, more love “ Ward 2
- “down crime; up multiculturalism” Ward 3
Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Concerns
Traffic concerns usually were about a specific traffic intersection or road, or for more sidewalks and a walk-able community. One commentator wanted more speed bumps. Another wanted fewer speed bumps.
- “Safe streets; more walkable neighborhoods” Ward 1